If you have rented a property recently from a private Landlord you may have noticed for the first time that you, and those sharing your home, have been asked to provide your passports and/or immigration documents.
This is because of a change in the Law which came into force in February 2016 which rolled out the so called ‘Right to Rent’ checks across the UK. These checks, which have been trialled in certain areas of the Uk since 2014, require private Landlords to take precautions to ensure that their tenants have the legal right to reside in the UK. This law is derived from the Immigration Act 2014.
Any Landlord entering into an agreement to rent a property after February 2016 must inspect and take copies of relevant documents for all prospective tenants. If you are a UK citizen, EEA (European Economic Area) citizen or Swiss national then your Landlord can confirm your right to reside by taking copies of your Passport.
If you are not a citizen of any of the above, your Landlord will need to check other documents such as a biometric residence card or right to reside card. If a Landlord is found to have let a property to an illegal immigrant, they are liable to be fined up-to £3,000 per tenant who does not have the proper ‘right to rent’. If you are unwilling, or unable, to provide the documents required for the checks, a Landlord would be entitled to decline to rent to you.
There are provisions in place to ensure that the compulsory document checks do not result in discrimination on grounds of religion or race. Landlords must ensure that they check the identity of every person that approaches them to start a tenancy. Landlords must under no circumstances only check the identity of those they believe not be UK citizens or not to be legally entitled to reside in the UK. This is to ensure that no-one is treated unfairly by these checks and that every single renter is treated the same.
If you believe that you have been a victim of unfair practices by your Landlord in relation to immigration checks you can contact the Equality Advisory Service at www.equalityadvisoryservice.com or on 0808 800 0082